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Kohl’s Unveils Adaptive Apparel for Adults

Kohl’s is expanding its adaptive apparel assortment for adults across three of its private brands, and in tandem with adaptive-friendly denim giant Tommy Hilfiger.

The expansion comes as the category’s market size is expected to reach $400 billion by 2024, according to 2021 research from Coherent Market Insights.

The collection, designed in partnership with Gamut Management, a consulting and talent management company for people with disabilities, includes integrated garment features that are manufactured with ease and comfort at the forefront.

Available now on Kohl’s e-commerce site, women’s adaptive products are sold across private-label brands Sonoma Goods for Life, Tek Gear and So, while men’s merchandise is included within both Sonoma Goods for Life and Tek Gear. The men’s products will also include an assortment from Tommy Hilfiger, one of the department store’s newest third-party partners alongside Eddie Bauer, Lands’ End and Cole Haan.

Kohl’s Sonoma Goods for Life adaptive women’s collection will feature crew and V-neck long sleeve shirts, and crewneck sweatshirts, as well as straight leg jeans and leggings. The brand’s adaptive men’s collection will feature flannel tops, short and long sleeve solid tees, henleys, joggers and regular fit jeans.

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Meanwhile, Tek Gear activewear will feature women’s long sleeve performance tees, active leggings, ultra-soft fleece sweatshirts, jackets and joggers. Tek Gear men’s products will offer ultra-soft fleece hoodies and pants, Dry Tek tees and shorts and Tricot pants. In addition, Kohl’s So adaptive women’s collection will include lounge leggings, crew neck and pocket tees, as well as joggers, jeggings and denim shorts.

Kohl’s is proud to expand our adaptive assortments and offer inclusive collections for the entire family,” said Ron Murray, Kohl’s interim chief merchandising officer, in a statement. “At Kohl’s, we understand how important it is to ensure all of our customers and associates are able to celebrate their personal style and independence in a way that meets their individual needs. Our adult adaptive collection is about creating apparel that is accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability, and serving more of our customers with disabilities. We’re happy to offer adaptive designs that provide everybody the opportunity to express themselves, without sacrificing comfort and ease.”

The company says the collection is designed to empower people with disabilities with confidence and self-expression, while easing their everyday realities.

Each garment features different functionalities with three core principles in mind: physical functionality, comfort first and incorporation into everyday life.

Every piece aims to simplify self-dressing and promote independence, with increased functionality coming through wider necklines and plackets at shoulder seams, and as functional leg openings and built-in adjustable waistlines.

Kohl’s caters to the “comfort first” principle with smooth garment interiors offering an unobtrusive tactile experience. The retailer’s design team created these options by incorporating soft fabrics, using heat sealed tags and engineering extra features to ensure all details were comfortable against the skin.

The company refers to its adult adaptive apparel line as “everyday staples” since they are foundational garments that can further extend the usability of customers’ wardrobes, whether it be denim jeans, active leggings, long and short sleeve base layer T-shirts or sweatshirts.

Kohl’s and Gamut Management teamed up to host Fit Focus Groups with people with disabilities to crowdsource insights that helped the design team create the products.

“As we continue to work toward a future of true inclusion in retail, we are proud of the work Kohl’s has done with Gamut Management to understand the needs of people with disabilities in product development,” said Mindy Scheier, Gamut Management founder and CEO. “Kohl’s development of adaptive clothing in an authentic way is evidence that the fashion industry is listening, and we are honored to collaborate with Kohl’s to help expand adaptive options for the entire family.”

The new collection follows the success of Kohl’s kids’ adaptive apparel collections featured across Sonoma Goods for Life, Tek Gear, So and another private-label brand, Jumping Beans.

Launching an adult adaptive collection is the latest step from Kohl’s to make progress on the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goal. Alongside Kohl’s, adaptive apparel advocate Zappos and more recently Target and JCPenney are examples of merchants that have sought to address the need for more inclusive clothing for those who may have difficulty dressing themselves or are sensitive to certain materials.

“In America, more than 41 million people live with a disability, and yet people with disabilities have historically had limited-access to fashionable and functional apparel that meets their individual needs,” said Michelle A. Banks, Kohl’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. “At Kohl’s, we believe we can create lasting change by offering relevant products and designs that are meaningful to our customers. By listening to customers across the country, Kohl’s innovative design team was able to create new apparel that provides new options for adults with disabilities and we look forward to continuing to expand in this market to address the growing needs of our customers.”

In addition, Kohl’s has launched partnerships with Billy Footwear and Stride Rite, offering mainstream shoes designed to be functional, fashionable, and inclusive for everyone. The retailer even offers adaptive toy options such as the Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set Toy and Foxmind Go Pop! Roundo.

According to the World Health Organization’s November report, more than 1 billion people globally are estimated to experience disability. This corresponds to about 15 percent of the world’s population, with up to 190 million people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care services.

With that in mind, the adaptive apparel market offers significant growth opportunity given the worldwide growth in older consumers. According to the United Nations Department of Economics & Social Affairs, the number of people aged 60 or above grows at a rate of 3 percent annually.

For New York Fashion Week, Kohl’s plans on showcasing some of its adaptive clothing and footwear on over 60 models with varying disabilities and backgrounds at the Runway of Dreams 2022 Fashion Show on the evening of Sept. 12 to support its efforts in fashion inclusivity.

Founded on the basis that clothing is a basic human need, the Runway of Dreams Foundation develops, delivers and supports programs and events that celebrate people’s differences, break down stereotypes, highlight the need for mainstream adaptive apparel and showcase people with disabilities in fashion.